Following the NHL entry draft, Inside Hockey caught up with the Merritt Centennials head coach and General Manager Luke Pierce on Flyers’ draft pick, Reece Wilcox. Pierce coached Wilcox during his two years with the Centennials’.
About Reece: During his two years with the Centennials’, Wilcox totaled ten goals and 27 assists. In his second year with the Centennials’, Wilcox increased his point production on defense from 14 to 23 points. He was selected in the fifth round with the 141st overall pick, by the Flyers’ and will be attending Cornell University this fall.
We discussed the potential success of the Flyers’ fifth round pick and what Wilcox will bring to the table at Cornell University among other things. Below is his interview with Inside Hockey.
IH: What are Reece Wilcox’s greatest strengths a defenseman?
Luke Pierce: “Reece has tremendous vision and patience with the puck. He makes the game look like it’s being played in slow motion. Ability to both make the easy first pass and to find and execute secondary options. His ability to defend with his stick is exceptional, he has great gap control and mobility for a player of his size. A very efficient and smooth skater who is rarely caught out of position or on the wrong side of the puck.”
IH: Can you key in on the raise of point production up nine points in Reece’s second year with the Centennials?
Luke Pierce: “Increase in point production due mainly to increased confidence as a second year player in the league. He also took more initiative and risk in the offensive zone later in the season to work on his offensive prowess which saw him put up points in 6 of final 8 games. Has an uncanny ability to get pucks through from the point and is a solid PP quarterback.”
IH: What other qualities such as leadership does Reece bring to the table?
Luke Pierce: “Reece is a very well-liked individual in the dressing room. He is soft spoken but with increased maturity shows potential to become a solid leader. Perhaps his greatest intangible is his ability to calm the game with his play. His abilities become more evident the bigger and more intense the games become as he remains extremely stoic and confident. This attribute has a strong effect on his teammates.”
IH: Where do you see Reece Wilcox in a few years? Is a he a player who can find a home at the NHL level?
Luke Pierce: “I see Reece playing NCAA hockey until such time the NHL feels he is ready to make that jump. I fully expect him to be an NHL player at some point.”
IH: What are the biggest parts of Reece’s game that he needs to work on to become a great professional hockey player? Does he need to add more size to his frame?
Luke Pierce: “Reece needs to become more assertive at times which I believe will come with added physical maturity and increased confidence and coaching at the higher levels. He has added weight to his frame since the end of season and will likely be just over 200lbs prior to next season. The offensive side of his game will become more evident as he plays with more intelligent players. He needs to shoot the puck to score more often instead of looking for tips/rebounds from the point.”
IH: He is set to attend Cornell University. Do you have an thoughts of how long Reece will stay there, before heading to the Flyers’ organization?
Luke Pierce: “Again, I think Reece will be at Cornell until the Flyers believe he is ready. Considering his position and the fact he is a true freshman, I wouldn’t be shocked if he plays the full 4 years at the NCAA level. Considering his rapid development over the past 3 years however, it also wouldn’t surprise me if he made the jump sooner.”
IH: Are there any other players on the Centennials’ roster that you think could become future NHL draftees?
Luke Pierce: “Dylan Chanter (95 D) is not eligible for the draft until 2014, committed to University of New Hampshire, 6’3” 200lbs. A physical specimen who plays with overpowering aggressiveness. Will be a draft pick.”
A big thanks goes out to Merritt Centennials Head Coach and General Manager, Luke Pierce who took his time to conduct his interview. You can visit the Centennials website here.